Posts tagged journalism

The Traits needed to be A Public Relations Pro and an Effective Traveler

By Courtney Reilly

During my time at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. I gained an immense amount of knowledge about public relations. As someone who loves to travel and is hoping to one day work in international PR, one of the most important things I learned from this internship is that there are specific characteristics that one must possess to be both an effective traveler and a successful PR professional. Here are 7 of them:

1) Be Flexible: As most people know, traveling doesn’t always go as planned. The same goes for public relations. As easy as it is for a flight to be delayed, a new technology or PR technique can be introduced. Therefore, you must be ready for anything and be prepared to adapt for your client or travel itinerary.

2) Strategize: Would you jump on a plane without researching your destination or choosing a place to stay? If you would, you are by far more spontaneous than me. Research is crucial for both travel and public relations. Making plans and setting goals for the campaign you are implementing are just as important as creating a vision of what you wish to accomplish during your trip.

3) Practice Patience: Patience is a necessary evil, and it’s a trait that I personally struggle with. I’ve learned that the art of patience is needed as a traveler and in the PR world. Results don’t happen instantaneously like we would like them to. Whether its not hearing back from a publication you pitched a story to, or having to wait in a line for a local attraction, patience is key.

4) Seize Opportunities: Like they say, “carpe diem.” If you see an opportunity arise, do what you can to take advantage of it. Whether that is a business opportunity to obtain a new client, or having the chance to do an adventurous activity while traveling, do it.

5) Willingness to Learn: There is a need to keep an open mind while traveling just as there is a need to be open to learning new things in PR. While traveling, you may come across different cultures, languages and customs. As a visitor, you must approach this with the desire to learn about the societal norms, not ignore them. The same idea applies to public relations. Instead of ignoring criticism, you should embrace it and use it as an opportunity to learn something new.

6) Network: In PR, connections are a big deal. By networking with people within your industry, or even within other industries, they just might be the contact you need when you’re in your next PR jam. Now when it comes to traveling, take time and speak with the locals. Linking up with people from the area can point you to the big highlight of your trip that your guidebook forgot to mention.

7) Honesty: Public relation professionals are often given the adoring names of “spin doctors,” “flacks” and “truth-twisters.” But, PR practitioners focus heavily on making ethical choices. We understand that being honest with clients and the media can save the reputation of a company and our profession as a whole. Honesty while traveling will most likely be beneficial to you as well. Whether it’s admitting you are lost and asking for directions or correcting the waitress for undercharging you during lunch, you know it is the right thing to do.

Overall, being an intern at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. has taught me that one must possess certain traits to be successful in PR. I personally hope to use this information as I continue my journey in both public relations and travel. If you are debating whether or not to take on an internship, I recommend you do it. What you take away from it will not only prepare you professionally, but it can help you in other aspects of your life.

A Proud Moment for #ZimmCasters and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County

By Marisa Drago and Marissa Kelly

This year was the 100th Gold Award Ceremony for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, and we were lucky enough to cover the event in our new role as #ZimmCasters! When we were presented the opportunity to attend, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were Girl Scouts when we were younger, so we knew a bit about the organization, but never made it far enough to earn the prestigious Gold Award. We were excited to attend the ceremony and learn what the award was all about.

The two of us are currently interning at Zimmerman/Edelson Inc (Z/E), a public relations firm that has the Girl Scouts of Nassau County as a client. This summer, as part of our season-long intern project, we were tasked with becoming “ZimmCasters.” This means we must challenge ourselves by becoming reporters and social media handlers for Z/E and several of its clients. As #ZimmCasters, we wanted to experiment with live steaming videos at different events. When we found out about the 100th Gold Award Ceremony, we recognized that it had great potential to be shown live on social media.

Before arriving at the ceremony, we came up with interview questions to ask some of the Girl Scouts, emcees, and the executive director of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Donna Ceravolo. We compiled possible tweets to send out, ideas for footage and interviews, and taught ourselves how to use the live-stream app, Periscope. When we reached the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, where the ceremony was held, we were fully prepared and extremely excited to cover the event.

First, the two of us took a tour of the facilities at the Marine Academy that were being used for the event. Throughout the night, we would be traveling back and forth between two buildings: Wiley Hall and the auditorium. Wiley Hall is where this year’s Gold Award projects were on display for families and friends to observe. We held several interviews in this building, some of which were with Girl Scouts Bianca, Maribel, and Chloe, all of whom were receiving their Gold Awards. The ceremony took place in the auditorium, where we caught footage of the 101 Girl Scouts receiving their Gold Awards, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Chorus performing, and several speakers proudly talking onstage.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Donna Ceravolo and ask her some questions. She opened our eyes to what an accomplishment the Gold Award truly is, and she beamed with pride speaking about the girls earning their Gold Award this year. Her evident passion and excitement for the event and for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County showed us how remarkable the girls who complete their Gold Awards projects truly are. “This project is a symbol of the tangible steps that girls have taken to make the world a better place,” said Ms. Ceravolo.

This ceremony was nothing like we have ever experienced before. Both of us were blown away by the extensive and thoughtful projects put together by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. Each Gold Award Project, along with the girl who created it, was more amazing than the last. As we sat in the auditorium and watched every girl cross the stage we recognized their true leadership qualities, and every single one of the girls should be incredibly proud of their accomplishments. The Girl Scouts of Nassau County gave us an opportunity to learn, not only about their incredible organization, but about what it’s like to be behind the scenes of such a meaningful event like this one.

We extend our true congratulations to all of the girls that earned their Gold Award this year and would like to thank the Girl Scouts of Nassau County for letting us be a part of this wonderful event!

Tips from a Journalist on How to Pitch the Media

By: Dan Schaefer

One of the most difficult tasks for a public relations intern or young professional just starting out is getting in contact with a major publication for the first time. However, there are ways to ensure that developing a connection and building a relationship with a media outlet goes as smoothly as possible.

John Jeansonne retired from New York’s Newsday in 2014 after an illustrious 44-year career as a sports writer, and he is now an adjunct professor at Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. He says the first step is to keep in mind that “any good reporter should always be keeping their eyes and ears and mind open to possible stories.” This is key to building the confidence needed to start typing that e-mail or picking up a phone. Reporters, no matter how busy they may seem, are always looking for story ideas.

Keeping that in mind, the next step is research. The PR practitioner must make sure he or she knows the story being pitched inside and out. Be prepared to answer any and all questions about the story.

“I have had publicists call me to pitch a story and found that I knew more about the story than the publicist did. On occasion, the publicist would have facts wrong or would demonstrate a general lack of knowledge. So, the first thing for the publicist to do is know his or her stuff before contacting a reporter,” said Jeansonne.

In addition, the practitioner needs to study the outlet that he or she is pitching. The story has to be relevant to the outlet’s audience for it even to be considered. Next, the correct reporter must be targeted.

“The reporter might steer the publicist to another reporter, another department at his paper or magazine or radio station,” Jeansonne said, in the event that the practitioner has contacted the wrong reporter. But this is not a given, especially if the reporter is on deadline or busy. Getting in contact with the correct reporter helps the publicist’s image.

Jeansonne says that e-mails or phone calls are appropriate to pitch that first story. If the publicist does send an e-mail, he or she should avoid blasting it out to multiple outlets. Personalize the message to each reporter, and be sure to follow up with a phone call to make sure the message was received and to gauge the reporter’s interest.

“A good relationship between a reporter and publicist is vital to both, and through those relationships you learn who is competent, who can be a real go-to person when you need information,” said Jeansonne.